How are we supposed to free ourselves from the spiritual emptiness and the degenerate life and find a genuine life? I was so lost and befuddled before, but now I’ve found the answer.
Perception of Life: Pursuing Fame Is Not the Road to Happiness
By Ziyi, Italy
When I was in elementary school, every summer or winter vacation my cousins would come home in their cars, bringing back various presents. All the relatives, friends and neighbors would come over and our house would be full of people. Seeing how they all cast admiring gazes at my cousins, I felt very envious. At that time, I made a resolution to myself: “I must strive hard to achieve something in the future so that I can be outstanding like my cousins. I want to bring honor and glory to my ancestors, and lead an aristocratic lifestyle.”
After working hard, I achieved modest success.
After graduating from technical school, I was very lucky to find a job as an office clerk in a foreign company. In the beginning, I was secretly happy with myself: “No matter what, I now work in an office, so no one can deny that I’m a white-collar worker.” But I didn’t expect that because I had a low position and poor qualifications everyone else could boss me around in the office. My self-esteem was severely damaged, but my ambition was stimulated. I resolved to make other people look at me with new eyes through my own efforts. Therefore, I worked harder and spent all my spare time learning the company procedures and all about the products, and generally gaining professional proficiency. Every day, I worked from dawn to dusk, and I hardly took time off all year round. In five years, I practically went nowhere but the dormitory, canteen and office. Finally, my years of hard work paid off: I was promoted from ordinary office clerk to salesperson, then manufacturing manager, then purchasing supervisor, then imports and exports supervisor, and in the end I became an executive in the company and was admired and looked up to by others. Those who once despised me nodded and bowed in front of me. Such an achievement made me feel glorious and proud.
But as I came into contact with more and more people, I saw that there were a great number of successful people who were richer and more powerful than me. Thus, my sense of satisfaction gradually faded. I thought: “Although I have gained a high position and the support and admiration of my colleagues, I’m still working for other people. As they say: ‘You have to be crazy to be highly successful.’ I’m still young; why don’t I start a business by myself? As the old saying goes: ‘People struggle to go upward, but water flows downward.’ I shouldn’t be content with my current situation, but should seek to progress.” Several years of work experience had given me enough faith and courage, so I quit the high-paying job as an executive to start my own business.
Later on, I opened a store selling cosmetics of a famous brand. To fulfill the high performance targets I set for my company every month, I had to work out various marketing plans besides managing the store. No matter how many customers there were during the day, I always stayed in the store all the time and didn’t go home until very late at night. I had no holidays of my own. Sometimes I felt very tired, but at the thought of the success that was just around the corner, I would exert myself again and keep persisting. After a few years, I achieved a fair amount of success and made some money. Then I expanded my store, and bought a car and a house. All my relatives, classmates and neighbors around me cast gazes of admiration at me, and my parents were also proud of me.
Sudden diseases left me in unbearable pain.
Just when I was tirelessly busy with my business and enjoying a sense of achievement, I started to have some health problems. I often felt faint and had numbness in my hands. After having an examination in the hospital, I was surprised to learn that I actually had cervical spondylosis and periarthritis. The doctor said to me in a serious voice: “These diseases cannot be eradicated. The treatment can only help you relieve your pain. You must take good care of yourself, take more rest and avoid overworking. Otherwise, your diseases will get worse and worse. Though these diseases aren’t deadly, they will influence your quality of life if they get serious. You are still young, so you must pay more attention to your health. If your condition goes on like this, you might get muscular atrophy, or even quadriplegia.” The doctor’s words made me think of those people I knew who suffered from cervical spondylosis or lumbar diseases. Both their work and quality of life were negatively influenced; some of them even seemed to be half- paralyzed and could do nothing. Thinking of all this, I felt very disheartened. I had never expected that I, who was barely 30, could get diseases which occur mainly among people in their 50s or 60s.
When I was driving home, I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing down my face. Thinking back on all those years, I felt I was like a wound clock that ticked round and round and couldn’t stop.
In the following days, I went to the hospital for treatment every few days. I tried all kinds of treatments to treat my cervical spondylosis and periarthritis, such as physical therapy, massage, cupping, acupuncture, traction and small needle-scalpel therapy. These treatments cost me a lot of money, but were of no help to me. On the contrary, they left a shadow on my mind: The sound of the acupuncture needles going in kept echoing in my head. Every time I went into the hospital, my heart would start pounding; when I thought of the pain brought by traction and acupuncture, my legs felt weak. Many times I thought: “I’ve built up my career and gained money and reputation through hard work, but my health is now ruined. I spent nearly half of my life striving to fulfill my ambition of building a successful career. How come my hard effort has resulted in this?” I lived in extreme depression and pain, but I didn’t know how to get rid of them.
After believing in God, I reflected upon my life.
When my agony was at its greatest, God’s gospel of the kingdom came upon me. I saw these words of God: “Born into such a filthy land, man has been severely blighted by society, he has been influenced by feudal ethics, and he has been taught at ‘institutes of higher learning.’ The backward thinking, corrupt morality, mean view on life, despicable philosophy, utterly worthless existence, and depraved lifestyle and customs—all of these things have severely intruded upon man’s heart, and severely undermined and attacked his conscience.”
Through reading God’s words and listening to the fellowshiping of some brothers and sisters, I found the root of my pain. I remembered that when I was little I saw my cousins succeeding in their careers, and that all the relatives and friends admired them, so I secretly became determined to become an outstanding person. When I began my career, controlled by notions such as “rising above others,” “bringing honor to the ancestors,” “People struggle to go upward, but water flows downward,” I was not content with being an ordinary white-collar worker. In order to satisfy my desire to be outstanding and be admired by others, I worked like crazy. I got so absorbed in studying as to forget food and sleep. After I became an executive in the foreign company, I still wasn’t satisfied and so I worked hard to build up my own business. I didn’t cease to pursue fame and wealth until I’d ruined my health. In modern society, the majority of people admire the rich and powerful, and are eager to be one of them. They do their utmost to struggle for fame and wealth, but little do they know that fame and wealth are Satan’s tricks to tempt and harm mankind. Satan uses these erroneous ways of thinking to control us, and make us turn away from God; bound by fame, wealth and status, we live in pain. Many people have achieved success, won recognition and have great wealth, yet they actually feel even more empty and depressed than before. Some of them get depression because of their great mental suffering. Some of them indulge themselves in lives of pleasure and lust, and even get addicted to drugs to numb themselves and relieve their pain; some even choose suicide to end their lives. Through the revelation of God’s words and examining all these facts, I came to realize that pursuing being an outstanding person was not true happiness, and that success and fame couldn’t bring true satisfaction or sureness to me.
Ecclesiastes 1:14 in the Bible says: “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” In Matthew 16:26, the Lord: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” That’s true. No matter what we gain in the world, we cannot take anything with us when leaving the world, and in the end, everything is empty. If we struggle for money, fame and status and sacrifice our lives, then we are very ignorant and stupid. In those years, I strived hard in order to be outstanding and live an aristocratic life, but now I’ve ruined my health and live with the suffering of illness. Thinking of this, I realized I was so ignorant.
Later, I saw these God’s words: “From the moment you come crying into this world, you begin to perform your duty. You assume your role in the plan of God and in the ordination of God. You begin the journey of life. Whatever your background and whatever the journey ahead of you, none can escape the orchestration and arrangement that Heaven has in store, and none are in control of their destiny, for only He who rules over all things is capable of such work. Since the day man came into existence, God has been steady in His work, managing this universe and directing the change and movement of all things. Like all things, man quietly and unknowingly receives the nourishment of the sweetness and rain and dew from God. Like all things, man unknowingly lives under the orchestration of God’s hand.” “I believe that it is best for us to find the simplest way to satisfy Him, that is, to obey all of His arrangements, and if you can truly achieve this you will be perfected. Isn’t this an easy, joyful thing? Take the path that you should take without paying any mind to what others say or thinking too much. Do you have your future and your fate in your own hands?”
Through the guidance of God’s words, I came to realize that our fate is in God’s hands and only by obeying God’s ordination and arrangements can we gain the blessings of God and enjoy true happiness and ease. However, I originally didn’t see God’s sovereignty and so obstinately lived in accordance with Satan’s philosophy, regardless of how bitter or tired I felt. Not until I fell ill did I stop to reflect upon myself. I realized that all that I pursued brought me only pain, and that only when I come before God to obey His sovereignty and arrangements, let go of fame and status and no longer rush around for them, can I stay away from Satan’s temptation and harm and live freely without restraints. When I realized this, I knew how to walk my future path.
When my viewpoint was transformed, I regained my freedom.
Later on, the cosmetic company changed their marketing strategy and wanted to select some stores to be model stores. Those stores had to have good locations, a steady stream of customers and high sales volumes. When the executive told me about this plan in detail, I was kind of tempted to apply. I thought: “Once my store becomes one of the first group of model stores, not only can I derive a variety of support and good discounts from the company, but there will also be a constant stream of customers when my store is redecorated. Then the sales figures will surely keep improving.” Just when I was picturing this beautiful future, God’s words flashed into my mind: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). “If you were asked to choose again, what then would be your position? Would it be the former still?” Pondering God’s words, I started reflecting upon myself: “What on earth should I choose? Money, fame, status, or my life? After hearing the company’s new strategy, I still want to take this opportunity to gain money, fame and status regardless of my health. Won’t I be repeating my former mistake? If I was to end up paralyzed in bed, then no matter how much wealth I possess and how much admiration I win, what use would they be? My life is the most important thing.” Thank God. Under the enlightenment and guidance of God, I knew how to choose the right way. Later, I went to the executive and told her: “I’m in poor health. If I expand my store, my health will break down. So I’ve decided, I don’t want to be selected.” The moment I made my decision, I felt as if I had rid myself of shackles that I had borne for a long time, and I gained relaxation, freedom and relief that I had never felt before.
After that, I no longer spent all my time managing my store. I started to fulfill my duties to the best of my abilities in the church. When it came time for meetings, I would go; and when it was time to work, I would go to my store. Surprisingly, sales didn’t decrease because of my attending gatherings and fulfilling duties. From this, I clearly saw that all of this wasn’t decided by my own efforts but depended on God’s blessings and control, as all things are in God’s hands.
I thank God for selecting and saving me. Through living the church life, reading God’s words with my brothers and sisters, and sharing our individual experiences, my depression was gradually alleviated and my condition took a favorable turn. Thank God. I’m willing to pursue the truth according to the direction God has pointed me in, and walk on the right path of life—obeying God and revering God. All the glory be to God.
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